Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Eyewear, Mexican Zombies and That Damn Hat.

My first block or 'term' I suppose you could call it, at college, finished today. This in itself is a big deal because if you'd asked me this time last year if I'd have managed a couple of months at college I'd have laughed in your face.
For those who don't know, I'm doing an NC at City of Glasgow College (formally Glasgow Metropolitan College) in Modelmaking for TV and Film. I still can't believe just what a perfect subject it is for me. Everyone in my class is completely mad (including the tutors :P) and despite there being a few bits and pieces I struggle with a little (being accurate for one thing, lol) I absolutely love what I'm doing and I'm so glad I decided to go for it.

Anyway, I've completed several projects now so I thought I might as well show them to you all. :D

First up is the Eyewear project. In this we were to design and make a pre-prototype model of a piece of eyewear from either the Sci Fi, Industry or Sportswear catagories. Unsurprisingly I went for sci fi and after a bit of faffing about with ideas, finally settled on this, the 'gill-wings' concept. Typically it was a faff and a half to make; heat bending the clear plastic for the visor, making mirrored masters for the vac-forming, painting it all with glass paints whilst trying to avoid it streaking all over the place and not to mention working out how to actually keep the blasted thing on my face! XD

When all's said and done though, I'm pretty pleased with it and it's actually very comfortable to wear, if impossible to see through!

(Apologies in advance for the photos - I keep forgetting to bring my SLR into class so I've had to make do with my iPhone's camera...)


Because it was a pre-prototype model it didn't have to be absolutely perfect...thankfully! XD

Next was one of many incredibly dull example pieces we had to make in our Media Handling section - mostly cubes and cylinders out of blue foam which had to be exactly the right size, much to my annoyance. For someone who loves photography, this one was very stressful as there were so many sections to make - many of which didn't have measurements listed on the reference sheet! I desperately wanted to soften the edges like on the real thing but apparently we weren't allowed. ¬¬

Blue foam camera

Next up was The Cube - basically a 100mm cardboard cube with a different surface on each side. One had to be vac-formed, one made from cork, one a 'natural' surface, one a 'man-made' surface and the last was to be our own choice.

First up was the cork contour one. I didn't have a clue what to do for this one so ended up falling back on the old trick of faffing about until something pops into my head and lo, a ruined old doorway appeared.

Cork contoured surface

For the 'natural surface' I chose to do a fossil - based loosely on the gorgeous ammonite I found down in Dorset a couple of years ago. Made entirely from blue foam (with some sprinkled on tealeaves for soil) it was the second thing I made for the cube.

'Natural surface'


I had a lot of fun texturing that one, especially as I hadn't bought my kit at the time so ended up carving out the whole thing with half a wooden coffee stirring stick I had in my bag! XD

The man-made one is probably my favourite bit though. Most people did walls or pavements but I thought I'd be a little bit different and did a partially excavated roman mosaic. :D Like the previous one, it's nothing more than blue foam, carved out with a scalpel, fingernails and the aforementioned coffee stirrer! It looks so much better in person...

'Man-made surface'

The vac-formed one took me ages to decide on but after Assassin's Creed Revelations came out there could only really be one design for me! XD I recycled some old train tickets that were cluttering up my bag as the card was just the right weight for some of the sections.

Vac-formed surface. Vac-formed surface

I wanted to do the full proper Ottoman crest but it was far too fiddly to cut out. Perhaps I'll revisit it next year when I'll get to use the laser-cutter! XD

The personal choice one proved even trickier to decide on and it was only after I'd been methodically stabbing a bit of blue foam with a scalpel for ten minutes that I realised how icy it looked...sooooo...

Glacier (with bonus Narwhal!) Glacier (with bonus Narwhal!)

Many, many coats of PVA glue, white paint, more glue and a sprinkling of salt created a nice floating bit of iceberg...with bonus Narwhal in the sea for scale. ;)

Glacier (with bonus Narwhal!) Glacier (with bonus Narwhal!) Glacier (with bonus Narwhal!)

Finally, came the main group project - scaling up a Lego minifigure! When it came to choosing one, my team and I struggled to decide between the Zombie and the Mexican Mariachi we combined the two and started work on the Mexican Zombie! :D I stupidly volunteered to do the hat which has to rank in the top five of the stupidest decisons I've ever made. XD Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the challenge and I liked learning and applying new skills but just...gaaaah, SO stressful!
The hat was a sombrero, and a very curvy one at that so instead of carving it out of blue foam like I was assuming I'd do, my lecturer Simon suggested that I vac-form it, which sounds excellent to begin with but not so great when it comes to actually making the bloody thing!

I had to draw out scaled technical drawings of the hat after taking horrifically accurate measurements with digital calipers and the like, then work from them. I'm not a terribly accurate or neat person in general (if it looks right, it'll damn well do! XD) so to say this was a struggle was a bit of an understatement!

Mexican Zombie hat technical drawings Mexican Zombie hat technical drawings

With Simon's help though I got there in the end. Unfortunately it wasn't as simple as just making it in one go - I had to make a master which could be vac-formed. This involved several weeks worth of carving out foam, cutting MDF, pouring resin, slapping on layer upon irritating layer of car body filler and sanding it all to within an inch of its life.

Not fun.

Step...err...five? It was quite far along by this stage.

Hat - vacforming master - WIP

^ The MDF had to be cut the right height so the brim would bend in the right way. Much superglue was used for this too...MUCH.

After weeks and weeks of work, I finally had a perfect master, so off to the vac forming machine I went and it looked perfect...the only thing I had to do now was get it off. Simon suggested blasting it with compressed air from the airbrush which would make it simply 'pop' off so away we went to try that...only, it didn't pop. It didn't even pip, it just...stayed there. Turns out the undercut was a lot worse than we'd thought and nothing we did would shift it so after all that work, blood, sweat and tears...

Mexican Zombie Hat - vac forming master. Mexican Zombie Hat - vac forming master.

It had to be virtually destroyed to get it off! :(

Still, I think it was worth it in the end. The cone part was made from blue foam, coated with jesminite and sanded to death. There are a few really rough bits here and there but by the end I really didn't care, I just wanted it done! XD

Mexican Zombie Hat Mexican Zombie Hat Mexican Zombie Hat

The rest of the team did a fantastic job on the body and squee, I'm so proud of it all! :D

Mexican Zombie Mexican Zombie

The other team's work. :D

Legomen project.

So yeah, that's what I've been up to since September! :D


  1. O.O I am in awe with your many talents, really! These are awesome works.
    The Mexican Zombie really rocks, LOL!!

  2. That is an absolutely PERFECT job for you! I don't know exactly how you guys work over there, what's an NC?

    Congrats on finishing the term!

  3. Heh, thanks guys! :D :D The hat was SUCH a pain to make but definitely worth all the hassle in the end!

    According to the Scottish Qualifications Authority, an NC is:

    Certificates (NCs)
    National Certificates are primarily aimed
    at 16-18 year olds and adults in full-time
    education, normally at a college.
    They prepare candidates for employment
    or further study, by developing a range of
    knowledge and skills. National Certificates have
    specific aims, which relate to occupational
    areas and are linked to National Occupational
    Standards. They are set at SCQF levels 2–6.'

    So yeah, pretty vague. XD This is just a one year course - almost a taster if you like - but next year, all goingwell I'll go onto the HNC which is a two or three year course.

  4. Okay, a bit like our technical schools across the pond :) Very cool course!